Lewis Hamilton wins the Grand Prix in Brazil and secures his employer the fifth Constructors title in series. Max Verstappen looks like a possible winner for a long time, then he becomes the victim of a rammer.


By Philipp Schneider, São Paulo / Munich

Oh, how nice would it be, would the next season start the same way as the penultimate race of this year ended?

On Sunday, the last laps on the autódromo were José Carlos Pace, as the two Red Bulls were chasing Mercedes and Ferrari. Max Verstappen hung the leader Lewis Hamilton close to the rear; and the fourth Daniel Ricciardo started to overtake the fastest Ferrari. It was not quite enough, neither came Verstappen past Hamilton, nor Ricciardo to Kimi Raikkonen. But what would happen in 2019 on the race tracks between Melbourne and São Paulo, if the speedsters of the lemonade company from the duel between Mercedes and Ferrari would finally make a three-way fight?

In any case, Hamilton not only celebrated the tenth race win of the season after the finish, but also his employer's fifth Constructors' Championship in succession. "The guys have been working so hard over the past six years, it was an amazing journey with the team," Hamilton called into the microphone. Ferrari had in the end also in the team standings no chance. Raikkonen was third in Brazil, Sebastian Vettel only sixth.

The most amazing story this weekend did not write the race. The most amazing story was written by Vettel, a Libra and a fine of 25,000 euros.

"To be taken out by such an idiot, I miss the words!"

Oh, weigh in late autumn. As the days get shorter and the dinners become more opulent, weighing is a rather unsatisfactory occupation. But no one would think of destroying a balance. Well, Vettel did not damage his scale on Saturday, of course, on purpose. In Formula 1 not only people are weighed, but people in their cars. The scales in Formula 1 should check whether a car is not too easy. And the situation was this: Vettel did not have any time for weighing on Saturday. He was in a hurry!

The series continues: Lewis Hamilton can be celebrated for another victory after which it did not look like a long time.

(Photo: Evaristo Sa / +++++ AFP)

And that was how it happened: The weather in Brazil was very changeable on Saturday. At the beginning of the second qualifying session, where the riders are required to set the type of tire they use to start the race on Sunday, the track was dry, but there was a drizzle from the clouds here and there. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull sent their drivers on the time-hunt with the faster Supersoft tires, but only Ferrari turned back into the garage after the warm-up lap to get the harder soft tires. Because Vettel wanted to start on this tire in the race, which are slower, but much more durable than the Supersoft.

At that very moment a random generator chose Vettel for weighing. He could have been pushed on the scales, but he was far too impatient for that. Vettel had to return to the track before it could possibly start to rain! So Vettel drove his Ferrari on the scales, bumped into a bollard. When his car was not pushed down immediately after the weighing, Vettel pushed on the gas. And the scale was broken. But why the 25000 euro penalty?

"I asked our technical delegate what the scales cost," race director Charlie Whiting told the trade journal on Sunday Car, engine and sport"He said 22,000 euros, so we added 3,000 to buy some spare cables."

After all, Vettel had the advantage of starting from second on the more durable tires to race than Lewis Hamilton, who parked for the tenth time this season in the pole position. Vettel just could not lose too many places right after the start.

Sebastian Vettel makes with his Ferrari on the race car scales an impatience owed error.

(Photo: Jerry Andre / imago / Motorsport Images)

At first he only lost one. Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's team-mate, grabbed Vettel in the second corner, overtaking him in the Senna-S. So in the penultimate race of the season, Bottas immediately returned to his favorite role: the altruistic buffer. A buffer, which was not necessary to protect against Vettel. Because Vettel had apparently any problems with his company car.

At the front were the Silver Arrows, but the fastest laps were turning. In the third lap Verstappen Räikkönen overtook, shortly after Vettel. And Vettel was so slow that he also had to let his teammate go. After four laps Vettel was only fifth. And in his rear-view mirror was Ricciardo, who had already fought his way up from eleventh to sixth.

Next Verstappen rolled past Bottas, now hunting for Hamilton. Shortly behind, Räikkönen also tried to overtake Bottas, whose softer tires were now more exhausted than those of Vettel's teammates. In the 19th of 71 laps Bottas came as the first driver from the front group to the pits, a lap later, Hamilton followed.

Freed from brake pad Bottas, Raikkonen now gave it a good gas, closed on Verstappen. Vettel could not follow him, drove out, after 28 turns he stopped at the supply station. It was sensational how well the Red Bull held in places one and three. Even after 30 laps, they still rolled so elegantly on their soft Supersoft rubbers, as if they came fresh from the rubber tree. In contrast to the two Mercedes drivers Verstappen and Ricciardo made no move to replace the tires. "I have the feeling that the tires are getting better," Verstappen even sparked. At some point, of course, the Dutch had to raise new tires. Later in the lap, he could afford to switch to a softer and faster mix than Hamilton. In the 40th lap he overtook the five-time world champion, Verstappen was now for the first time in the rankings adjusted by pit stops at the front. He would have stayed there, too. If the overcrowded Esteban Ocon had not carried him off the piste in Senna-S. Verstappen turned, sorting himself behind Hamilton. However, only after he had presented Ocon still out of the car his extended middle finger. Later, when the driver, which showed pictures of the transmitter Canal +Verstappen grabbed Ocon on the racing overalls and shook him. "He pushed me around while weighing," complained Ocon. Just after the finish, Verstappen – and that was not without irony in view of his colorful history as a racing booby – was already raging: "To be taken out by such an idiot, because I miss the words!" And Vettel?

For Vettel ran in the end nothing more. First Ricciardo pushed past him, then he drove out to a second pit stop, which hardly anyone except him needed, and fell back. Far behind.

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